Shear wall framing is one of the least understood house framing instructions yet extremely important to the life of a building. While framing a window or framing a wall it is important to understand why shear walls are needed particularly when you are learning the process of framing a house.
Shear walls for the most part is part of the exterior walls of homes and they can be part of load bearing walls or non-bearing wall. Very rare shear walls are part of interior walls but they do exist sometimes.
If you purchase a blueprint online chances are high that you will be required to hire a local structural engineer to provide you with calculations before the building permit is issued. Among the structural engineer to do list while doing structural calculations is perform lateral analysis to ensure the structure can safely withstand wind storms and earthquake.
Since wood is much lighter than concrete, wind load in most cases governs the lateral design of wood frame homes. This means that the forces caused by wind blowing at 80 mph have greater effect on the home than a magnitude 5, 6, or 7 earthquake depending on the seismic zone.
Installing shear walls is the most effective way to address lateral stabilities of homes. The fact that the waferboard is installed at one face of the stud enables the wall cavity uninterrupted for the utilities.
In the old days braced walls where diagonal brace members that run from the top of wall just below the top plate down to the top of bottom plate in a 45 to 60 degree angle. Nowadays this approach is deemed ineffective and is no longer used due to the fact that the diagonals often interfere with window and door openings as well as utilities such as plumbing pipes, duct work, and electrical. Furthermore, installing multiple braces at a single wall is almost impossible.
Back to wall framing